How good is this album exactly? Take your bad self out in the back yard some sweet summer afternoon with a bucket of ice, some branch water, a jug of bourbon, and a big fat glass. Put this on. Listen, sip, ponder, sip, and repeat. Wonder why N'awlins folks march at funerals? This explains. Curious how the city could come back after Katrina? This'll tell. Ever pondered on how that strange, powerful mix of joy and sadness can soothe and uplift at the same time? Answer's right here, partner. Allen Toussaint knows all and explains it as clearly, smoothly, and easily as that bourbon in your hand. The South -- yep, that mythic, historical, literal, real, figurative place -- in all its art forms has always tempered joyful exuberance with the blue melancholia of loss. If a city is emblematic of that seeming contradiction in emotions, New Orleans is it. If there's a New Orleans musician who can play that complex emotional gumbo, Allen Toussaint is the man, this is the music, and this is the album. Take another sip.